Country music superstar, actress hold benefit concert for North Bay fire victims

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- As fires continue to rage throughout California this fire season, the communities affected by last year's North Bay wildfires are still recovering.

A relief concert was held at Sonoma State University on Saturday night to help those fire victims. The headliner was one of country music's biggest stars.

Brad Paisley lent his voice to help the hundreds of North Bay fire victims who lost everything last October -- an issue hundreds more are currently dealing with.

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"I feel it's more important we do this now and then people will follow suit with each of these things that are ravaging areas," Paisley said.

The country star shared the stage with acclaimed actress and comedian Bonnie Hunt to bring some cheer to the crowd, knowing the seriousness of these destructive fires.

"As a community, you have to come together, and that's what's been beautiful to see here," Hunt said.

MAPS: Wildfires burning across California

Both have family members who've been on the front lines and know what it's like to be a first responder. Paisley's dad and brother-in-law are firefighters and Hunt's brother-in-law is a fire chief in Chicago.

More than 2,000 people attended the indoor and outdoor venue at Sonoma State University.

Some in attendance were victims themselves, including the president of the university.

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"I woke up and our house was already on fire," recalled Judy Sakaki, president of Sonoma State. "My husband and I ran for our lives we almost didn't make it."

Santa Rosa firefighter and now friend Tony Niel helped rescue them hours after losing his own home.

"It really makes you think about what you had and what you lost," Niel said. "It's also an amazing thing to know there are so many people that have reached out to us that we don't even know."

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Their message for the victims of the ongoing fires: Be strong.

"We're resilient. We will come back," Sakaki said.

All proceeds from the concert will benefit the Sonoma County Resilience Fund.

In response to the devastating wildfires in Shasta County, Tri Counties Bank has created a verified GoFundMe campaign to help those impacted by the fires. Click here if you'd like to help.

Get the latest on the Carr Fire here, the Complex Fire here and the latest on wildfires across California here.
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